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San Jose extends SJ Al Fresco concept to allow “parklets” for dining, shopping

Groups of businesses encouraged to create activated areas on commercial streets

Post Date:06/30/2020 10:00 AM

On June 26, 2020, San Jose’s City Manager signed an Emergency Order to streamline the application process for parklets for retail and restaurants, effective 12:01 am, June 27. The temporary relaxation of rules will last through December 31, 2020, unless the local emergency ends before this date, or the City reinstates existing regulations.

The Emergency Order relaxes some regulations help businesses in the City by allowing for the expansion of dining and retail operations into on-street parking spaces while complying with mandatory social distancing requirements set forth by the County. (link to Protocols). Any business allowed by the County to open may apply if they are located on a street in commercial areas with a posted speed limit of 25 MPH or less. There is no fee for applying.

What is a parklet? 

A parklet is defined as the repurposing of vehicle parking spaces within the public street in front of a business’ property so they can be used for outdoor dining, with or without table service, retail operations, and customer and general public seating. A parklet is separated from vehicular traffic by temporary physical barriers, which will be supplied and installed by the City, at no charge to the business. For details, see the Terms & Conditions.

Difference between these temporary and existing parklets

These emergency-order parklets differ from existing parklets, such as the one outside the Garden Theater on Lincoln Avenue:

  1. The Emergency Order does not require businesses to construct a platform for the parklet to be flush with the curb and will be able to place tables and chairs directly on to the street surface.
  2. Businesses also will be allowed to operate in areas of the parklet beyond their business’ frontage with the written consent of the neighboring business owner, which is not normally allowed.
  3. The Emergency Order allows retail businesses to operate their businesses from parklets, which is not allowed by the current Parklet Program, provided that no retail operations may be conducted on the public sidewalk adjacent to the parklet.
  4. The parklets created under the Emergency Order are intended to be larger, unbroken areas along commercial streets, rather smaller parklets that only serve individual businesses. Therefore, the City will prioritize parklets in locations where there is substantial local business support for repurposing on-street parking
  5. Ideally, the City would like to be able to approve a continuous set of parking spaces blocked temporarily to provide restaurant or retail customer service outdoors for one or a series of contiguous businesses.

Streamlined Parklet Application

The application process for parklets has been streamlined and fees have been waived. Businesses can apply for parklets by clicking on “Apply for Parklet” below.

Businesses must continue to comply with applicable laws in operating outdoors, including County Health Orders. Only businesses allowed to operate under applicable law are eligible to take advantage of the relaxed rules.


On Friday, June 5, 2020, Santa Clara County allowed restaurants in the county to open for outdoor dining and in-store shopping, among other activities, subject to social distancing and health requirements. To enable businesses to reopen while maintaining compliance with the County’s Order and Social Distancing Protocol, the City Manager, in his capacity as Director of Emergency Services, signed an Emergency Order on June 4, 2020 relaxing rules to allow many businesses throughout the city without existing permits for outdoor operations or seating to expand their operations outside to public sidewalks and in privately owned outdoors areas such as parking lots. Details on this initiative and the link to register for immediate use of a sidewalk or a parking lot, see the information about, on Al Fresco.


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